Home‎ > ‎Rights Group of the Week‎ > ‎

Rights Group of the Week: Committee for the Prevention of Torture

posted 15 May 2017, 07:40 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 May 2017, 07:56 ]
On 12 May 2017 Moscow police released a report explaining that they had earlier refused to investigate an attack on the head of the human rights NGO Committee for the Prevention of Torture based in Nizhny Novgorod, Igor Kalyapin, at a 2014 press conference at which he voiced criticism of the Chechen authorities, on the grounds that the assault was carried out to ‘protect’ Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. This failure of the Moscow city police to take action in the case of this assault on Igor Kalyapin (an assault that took place in public with many witnesses and was videoed) is one further demonstration of the climate of impunity in which such brazen and outrageous assaults against human rights defenders are carried out. 

The Moscow Times reports that Igor Kalyapin, who is also a member of Russia's Human Rights Council, was pelted with eggs at the Moscow news conference held in December 2014 at which he had condemned Chechen authorities for their use of "mass punishment" as a weapon against armed groups. Citing MediaZona, The Moscow Times states: "Moscow police formally refused Kalyapin's request to press a charge of hooliganism in July 2016, but only released a report on the decision in early 2017. [...] The document defends the man's actions as 'in Kadyrov's defense'."

Igor Kalyapin has been attacked on several other occasions, The Moscow Times notes, including an incident in the Chechen capital Grozny on 22 March 2016 when "a group of fifteen men beat the activist close to a hotel [...], also pelting him with flour, eggs, and green disinfectant dye." This assault followed an attack on members of the Joint Mobile Group, an organization that combats human rights abuses in Chechnya, that took place on 15 March 2016. On that occasion, as Frontline Defenders describe: 'On 9 March 2016, masked men physically attacked and set fire to a bus carrying a group of human rights defenders and journalists from Ingushetia to Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic. The human rights defenders and journalists were travelling together whilst participating in a press tour organised to publicise the work of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG). Later on the same day, armed and masked men attacked the office of Joint Mobile Group in Karabulak, Ingushetia."  As Frontline Defenders set out in the same piece, "Joint Mobile Group was established in November 2009 by a group of Russian human rights organisations, with a leading role played by Committee for Prevention of Torture (CPT). It was created following the murder of human rights defender Ms Natalya Estemirova, in order to provide victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya with legal aid. JMG received the Front Line Defenders Award in 2011 for their work in investigating torture and disappearances in Chechnya, and was also the 2013 recipient of the Martin Ennals Award."

As Rights in Russia has reported earlier, on 6 March 2017 the Committee for the Prevention of Torture received the Homo Homini Award for 2016 in Prague. The Homo Homini Award is given annually by the Czech human rights organization People in Need since 1994 to individuals and organizations for their contribution to the defence of human rights, democracy and non-violent solution of political conflicts. Each year the award is presented at the One World Film Festival, the world's largest human rights film festival. As Caucasian Knot reported, Igor Kalyapin, the chair of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, said at the ceremony: "We find extremely important to feel support and solidarity of ordinary people, who are ready to defend human rights not only in their own country, but throughout the world, and who understand that a human rights violation in a neighbouring country will inevitably lead, sooner or later, to problems in their own country."
The Committee for the Prevention of Torture is a Russian NGO based in Nizhny Novgorod. It also has offices in the Republic of Mari El, the Republic of Bashkortostan, Orenburg region, and Moscow and Moscow region. Since 2009 it has been a leading participant in the Joint Mobile Group of human rights defenders that works in Chechnya. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture, set up in 2015, continues the work of the Committee Against Torture, which was founded in 2000 and closed down in 2015 after it was designated as a 'foreign agent' NGO.

The website of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture states that the Committee "was created as a human rights organization with the purpose of exercising public control over the problem of torture application and violent treatment in Russia and granting professional legal and medical aid to torture victims. [...] In the framework of a public investigation lawyers of the Committee conduct an independent self-contained investigation, but its results are used as admissible evidence within the official investigation and later in the courtroom. The hallmark of the organization is its professional legal approach to solving tasks connected to with protection of human rights and lawful interests. This approach has been used since the Committee was created and accounts for the success of the organization. From the moment of the Committee foundation its specialists have checked about 1000 applications dealing with human rights violations, have conducted hundreds of public investigations and have made the state and its representatives pay millions of rubles as compensation to people who suffered from unlawful actions of law enforcement agents. Besides, thanks to the efforts of Committee lawyers, more that 70 law enforcement agents were convicted under torture cases. Another very important mechanism of human rights protection that has no systematic counterparts in the Russian human rights community and is widely used by the Committee is representation of Russian citizens at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg by highly-qualified Committee lawyers. By now specialists in European law of the Committee have prepared and filed 75 applications to the ECtHR. Under the most wide-known case, “Mikheyev vs. Russian Federation”, January 2006, the Court adjudicated in favour of the applicant, found Russia in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and obliged the state to pay Mr. Mikheyev 250 thousand euros as compensation. At present this is the biggest compensation the European Court enforced upon Russia."

'Russian Police Say Attack on Rights Activist Was in "Defense" of Chechen Leader,' The Moscow Times, 12 May 2017
'Rights Group of the Week: Committee for the Prevention of Torture,' Rights in Russia, 13 March 2017
'CPT receives Homo Homini Award,' Caucasian Knot, 7 March 2017
'Homo Homini Award,' Wikipedia
Committee for the Prevention of Torture, website